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Indian Express

14- December-2023

1. Power play in Ladakh

Topic: GS2- Polity and Governance 
Context:
·       The recent ruling by the Supreme Court supporting the establishment of a distinct Union Territory for Ladakh has clarified the constitution and established a future course for the area. ·       Residents of Kargil and Leh have greeted the ruling with overwhelming positivity in the political arena. ·       Leh Apex Body, which supports Ladakh’s Sixth Schedule status and statehood, expressed happiness with the decision but voiced optimism that the central government would reconsider and award Ladakh complete sovereignty.

Historical Context and Political Dynamics:

  • The ruling upholds Ladakh’s long-standing demand which dates back to the 1947 Instrument of Accession to be separated from Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Ladakh was ignored even though it constituted a significant chunk of the state’s territory, with the main reason being its low population.
  • The 2014 BJP pledge to revoke Article 370 was a major step towards realising its national vision.
  • On August 5, 2019, the government put this decision into effect, which caused differing opinions in Leh and Kargil.

Post-Abrogation Dynamics: Fear and Demand for Protection:

  • After the initial excitement, dissatisfaction emerged in Ladakh.
  • Union Territory (UT) status was granted without any legislative provisions allowing local laws to be enacted or substitute protection measures.
  • The locals were afraid that a wave of immigrants would change the identity and demography of the area.
  • With the backing of several organisations, Ladakh’s demand for the Sixth Schedule of Article 244(2) and 275(1) gained traction in 2020.
  • The region wants legislative authority and cultural preservation similar to those of tribal areas in northeastern states.

Stalemate and Lack of Clarity:

  • The fourth year finds the Centre and Ladakhi civic societies at a standstill.
  • After successfully demanding the revocation of Article 370 and Ladakh’s secession from J&K, the leaders of Ladakh are now seeking clarification over the future of their territory under the Sixth Schedule.
  • The muddle appears to be caused more by ambition than by politics, which suggests that the government’s strategy is unclear and poorly stated.
  • The administration needs to pay attention to the persistent unhappiness in Ladakh, striking a balance between political considerations and addressing issues.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Ladakh’s internal demands for the Sixth Schedule are consistent with a struggle for authority and defence of regional administrations.
  • It is in opposition to the BJP’s doctrine, which calls for a single legal system for the whole country.
  • China is more uncomfortable on the outside due to the changing status of Ladakh and the revocation of Article 370, which have strategic ramifications.
  • The way the government reacts to outside pressure, especially with regard to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), continues to be a crucial aspect in determining Ladakh’s destiny.
More about abrogation of article 370
·      Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granted special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. ·      On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 through a Presidential order, thereby revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Way Forward:

  • The decision by the Supreme Court regarding Ladakh’s status will probably make the case for statehood stronger.
  • The government’s actions, spending plans, and infrastructure initiatives show that Ladakh is important.
  • One problem, though, is that there isn’t a clear plan in place to satisfy local desires and mould the Union Territory.
  • The geopolitical landscape is changing, which makes everything more complicated, especially with regard to China.
  • The unhappiness in Ladakh continues to be a litmus test for the government’s comprehension of the complexity of the area and its capacity to successfully control public opinion.
 
Practice Question: Analyze the challenges and opportunities presented by Ladakh’s quest for the Sixth Schedule, considering its impact on governance structures, demographic concerns, and the region’s geopolitical dynamics.

2) In custody, civil liberties

Topic: GS2 – Polity
Context:
·       Discussions about the possible overhaul of India’s criminal justice system have been triggered by the government’s withdrawal and subsequent reintroduction of three important criminal law bills: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS-II), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS-II), and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill (BSB-II).
 

Expansion of Police Powers:

  • Concerns regarding civil rights are raised by the proposed Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS-II), which contains a notable and concerning extension of police custody time.
  • The present 15-day restriction is being extended to either 60 or 90 days, depending on the offence, which increases the possibility of police abuses and puts the security of those who are arrested at danger.

Overcriminalization and Broad Offenses:

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS-II) introduces offences with broad wording, particularly those pertaining to state security.
  • The laws that make disinformation and actions that jeopardise India’s integrity, unity, and sovereignty illegal continue to be broad.
  • BNS-II makes an effort to define and restrict offences such as organised crime and petty organised crime, however issues with the vague language still exist.

Terror Offenses and Lack of Clarity:

  • Although the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and BNS-II define “terrorist act” in the same way, there is still uncertainty about whether BNS applies to terror offences more so than the UAPA.
  • There is a dearth of guidelines on the police officer’s discretionary power to record a case under UAPA or BNS.

Positive Aspects and Transformative Vision:

  • The goal of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) is to create a criminal justice system that is dedicated to efficiency and fairness by prioritising timeliness, utilising technology more extensively, and requiring audio-video recording of searches and seizures.
  • The Bills emphasise the necessity of significant changes to the criminal justice system, including filling vacancies and relieving the court of its excessive workload.

Challenges and Missed Opportunities:

  • Notwithstanding their advantages, the Bills fail to address systemic inequalities in the criminal justice system.
  • Rather than decolonizing criminal law, the proposed amendments emphasise state control, which furthers the logic of colonialism.
  • The Bills don’t adequately clarify the use of technology, such as CCTV cameras in police stations, and they don’t address fundamental structural constraints.
More about Bhartiya Nyay Samhita(BNS)
·      The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill introduces new categories of offences, such as cybercrimes, terrorism, hate crimes, honour crimes, mob lynching, etc. It provides special provisions for women, children, senior citizens, and other vulnerable sections of society. ·      The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill seeks to ensure the protection of the rights and interests of the victims, witnesses and accused persons in the criminal justice process. It provides for speedy and fair trials, effective investigation and prosecution, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, victim compensation and rehabilitation schemes, witness protection programmes, etc. ·      The Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill provides for scientific and technological advancements in evidence collection and analysis, such as DNA testing, narco-analysis, brain mapping, etc. It lays down guidelines for admissibility and relevancy of evidence, burden and standard of proof, a presumption of innocence and guilt, etc.  

Conclusion:

  • Although the planned criminal law reforms have some positive aspects, there are worries about the overcriminalization of certain crimes, the extension of police powers, and the ambiguity surrounding important issues.
  • To guarantee equity, effectiveness, and the defence of civil liberties in India, a comprehensive and revolutionary vision for criminal justice is required.
 
Practice Question: Discuss the proposed criminal law reforms in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS-II) and Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS-II) bills, highlighting concerns related to the expansion of police powers, overcriminalization, and the lack of clarity on terror offenses.

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